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Experiencing the Reserve mission

Local civic leaders participate in Air Force Reserve 101

Senior Airman Mitch Williams teaches Buckley resident Rod Wittmier of Vets meet Vets about the C-17 Globemaster III during the June 23-24 civic leader tour hosted by the 446th Airlift Wing. /2nd Lt. Denise Hauser

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(446th AW PA) - It's O' dark thirty. Excitement is in the air. Anticpation is on the ground. One by one they arrive at the main gate until a crowd has formed.

The 446th Airlift Wing hosted a two-day civic leader tour June 23-24. The tour began at McChord Field. From there the group flew on a C-17 Globemaster III to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., where they spent the night. The following day, they traveled to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., then returned to McChord Field.

The purpose of the civic leader tour program is to educate the public on the mission of the Air Force Reserve.  Each year units throughout the country host two to three half day tours, and one two day tour.

"It was a great opportunity to meet the surrounding community of McChord Field, and teach them about the Air Force Reserve from our perspective", said Lt. Col. James Dignan, 446th Airlft Wing Operations Group commander and host for the tour. "Being able to spend two days with them teaching about our mission is much better than just a Power Point Presentation."

"I hope to learn how the Air Force has modernized since I served," said Kent Meherer, manager of New Product Development in Bothell, as they took off from McChord Field. "It will be interesting to see how the mission is done at other units."

"I hope to learn more about what the Air Force Reserve does," said Brenda Rogers, School Board Director for Bethel Schools, during the flight to March ARB. "It's important for the community to keep good ties with the military."

The tour started at McChord Field with a short mission brief about the 446th AW.  The civics were then hustled out to the C-17 for a short flight down to March ARB.  Once they arrived, they had lunch with wing leadership from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, and were presented with their mission brief.  After, they were taken to see the Predator School House, where airmen are trained to fly unmanned aircraft.  Then they saw a KC-135 Stratotanker static display and were taught how "gas is passed" at 30,000 feet.

The next morning, the civics headed to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., where they recieved the "royal treatment" as soon as they stepped off the aircraft.  They were given the Team Travis mission brief and then taken out to a C-5 Galaxy static display to learn about the mission and capabilities of the monster aircraft.

They were given a tour of the David Grant Medical Center, and then had lunch with Airmen of 349th Air Mobility Wing who had recently returned from deployment.

After two exhausting but fun-filled days, the civic leaders returned to McChord Field.  They were exhilarated.

"I can't even begin to decribe all I've learned about the Air Force Reserve," said Ray Smith, owner of Dupont Business Enterprises in DuPont. "The depth of respect I have for everyone involved is so special, and I was very suprised to learn about the magnitude of services that are provided by Air Force Reservists."

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